Are we there yet? The AAO-HNS/F journey continues

September 2019 – Vol. 38, No. 8

The M Team (the Merati family) is climbing into the M-Mobile* and hitting the road again this summer. We are fortunate to have this freedom and capacity to explore our beloved U.S. for leisure time together. The 2019 summer plan is a grand loop from Seattle out to Glacier National Park and up into the Okanagan in British Columbia.

Albert L. Merati, MD AAO-HNS/F President

This has been a year for road trips for me professionally as well. I have had the privilege of visiting, listening, and sharing with otolaryngologists from all over the U.S. and around the world during my time as AAO-HNS/F President. This has included stops in New York City, San Diego, Charlottesville, Montana, and Salt Lake City— spacious skies and amber waves. It has been amazing. Just this June, I managed to get to Berlin, Little Rock, Shreveport, and Ann Arbor, for example. Otolaryngologists love otolaryngology. Although they may not love aspects of their practice, their expenses, or the regulatory environment they practice in, they do love talking about their patients, their communities, and the cases and connections they make. That is our engine, both individually and collectively as the AAO-HNS/F.

“Otolaryngologists… love talking about their patients, their communities, and the cases and connections they make.”

The concerns and opportunities for the future are real, and bringing issues to my attention directly (and indirectly) are critical to a successful journey. Getting with the Joint Commission to move toward regulatory sanity and fighting off the incorrect interpretations of the Modifier 25 policy, for example, all started with members contacting the AAO-HNS. Changing the voice of the trainees in AAO-HNS committees, registration flexibility for our military otolaryngologists, and standing up for and committing to diversity and inclusion—these conversations were all built from the voices of our members.

The most memorable conversations were, like many moments in life, unexpected. Some conversations led to change and some did not. We had a year of great success: Reg-entSM has matured and blossomed, AAO-HNS membership is up, engagement is up, and registration for our AAO-HNSF 2019 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience in New Orleans is up. New visions for the AAO-HNS/F education products as well as for continuing the success and Board of Governors—our grassroots dynamo—are coming soon. It has been a great run this past year.

M Team at Glacier National Park

As you can imagine, I have also failed many times. Sometimes the ground just isn’t ready to be cracked open. Sometimes we delude ourselves that we are the weather; sometimes we serve best as the weathervane.

Next year’s agenda will include one legacy project for me as I move into the role of Past President. I will focus on AAO-HNS members who attend the moveable feast that is our Annual Meeting and imagine what the next 10 and 20 years of attendees want from AAO-HNSF meeting logistics—particularly relating to the rich interactions most of us enjoy with specialty organization conferences. I believe we can do even better by our AAO-HNS members than we do today. Please send me any ideas as we move forward with this project.

So are we there yet? Of course, the journey continues. While the AAO-HNS/F President is often and reasonably thought of as the person behind the wheel of the organization (I confess I occasionally prefer to be thought of as the hood ornament), I will hand the driving over to a remarkable leader in Duane J. Taylor, MD, during our Annual Meeting in New Orleans. The AAO-HNS/F journey will continue, and we are all better if you are an active part of it. This happens not just by joining Dr. Taylor and me and nearly 7,000 attendees and exhibitors in New Orleans, but by engaging and by speaking up throughout the year. Call the AAO-HNS, or email me or any of our AAO-HNS/F leaders about an idea or a concern. Renew your membership. Join a committee; the cycle for applications opens in November. Let’s be prepared for the next year’s journey and beyond.

* A 2013 Ford Expedition, bought used. As the Queen song goes, “I’m in love with my car.” Pro tip: If you buy a used car in December, don’t forget to try out the AC.